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Stem cells (again)…..

There’s an excellent editorial on the use of stemcells in Orthopaedics Today, published this week. Here’s a summary of it:

‘Stem cell therapy holds tremendous promise as part of the “ingredients” for regenerative therapies to treat musculoskeletal conditions. Stem cell treatments for blood-based diseases and cancers have been miraculous. We one day may be able to use stem cells, most likely in combination with extracellular matrices and additional growth factors, to modify and cure some orthopedic conditions. However, those treatments are years away from completed clinical trials.’

‘The Lancet Commission on Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine concluded: “The combination of poor quality science, unclear funding models, unrealistic hopes, and unscrupulous private clinics threatens regenerative medicine’s social license to operate.” The commission urged rethinking the social contract that supports research and clinical practice and recommends following a strategy of better science, better funding models, better governance, and better public and patient engagement.

Private practice clinics and their direct-to-consumer marketing efforts, combined with growing demand from patients for nonsurgical options, has finally awakened concerns among orthopedic surgeons and researchers who have dedicated their careers to developing trustworthy relationships with scientific peers and patients. We are increasingly asked by patients to consider unproven treatments for common conditions, such as knee arthritis. Due to the inconclusive science behind stem cell treatments, no insurance company pays for stem cell treatment of osteoarthritis. Incredibly, the average cost for stem cell treatment of an arthritic joint is well-above the Medicare reimbursement for knee arthroplasty, and patients are fully responsible for the charges.’

Stem cell treatments have huge potential to revolutionize the treatment of many chronic, disabling diseases. We are very much at the beginning of this revolution, and there are unfortunately plenty of cowboys out there who are happy to relieve vulnerable people of large amounts of money for unproven treatments. Caveat emptor…

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  • Hip Replacement

    Total Hip Replacement or THR is one of the most successful hip operations in orthopaedic surgery. Thousands of hip replacements are performed each year…

    Click here to find out more
  • Hip Resurfacing

    Hip resurfacing was developed to treat painful arthritis in younger and active patients. It’s a relatively new technique, but the results are usually excellent…

    Click here to find out more
  • Revision Hip Surgery

    Hip replacement surgery can be life changing for those dealing with pain on a daily basis. Unfortunately, even a replacement hip can wear out…

    Click here to find out more